It’s back-to-school time in the Lappin family, and this means a return to homework. My wife and I are trying to help our children establish healthy habits and expectations for this new routine. In many ways, we’re establishing a life-long endeavor.

Asking the kids to see their homework puts the focus on making sure they complete the assignment, but does not guarantee that the work will be done with good intention and best effort. It is more important that they did the homework so that you can make a mental check that it’s done, or that they completed the assignment with attention and effort?

I’ve been in sales for more than 20 years. From day one, like you, I’ve been programmed to track appointments. My first sales manager was absolute that the objective of any first appointment was to make it to the second appointment and so on. Even as a sales manager, I measured sales activity and progress on first, second and third appointments. Looking back on all this, I had it all wrong. Just because you have seven appointments doesn’t mean you’re making progress, nor does it equate to making the sale, but it sure can make you look and feel busy.

Does tracking appointments really help you better understand the prospect’s motives for change? Of course, it doesn’t. If anything, you’ve only proven that you’re willing to wear your prospects out. Instead, start tracking the types of conversations you’re having. Start with how your prospects make decisions versus how you’ve been taught to sell. Is the prospect really willing to talk and evaluate their current situation, or are they just talking to you out of obligation?


This is the stage when the prospect recognizes and analyzes the information on your services and compares them to their current business solution.


This is the stage when facts meet emotion. The prospect starts to connect the impact of your services on their current situation, and how that impact would affect other areas of their business (and them personally).


This stage is all emotion. The prospect connects what happens if they make a switch or just keep doing what they’re doing.

In sum, checking to see if homework is finished makes you feel good but doesn’t guarantee good grades. Collecting appointments shows that you’re busy but doesn’t guarantee you can sell.